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Many patients with advanced serious illness or at the end of life experience delirium, a potentially reversible form of acute brain dysfunction, which may impair ability to participate in medical decision-making and to engage with their loved ones. Screening for delirium provides an opportunity to address modifiable causes. Unfortunately, delirium remains underrecognized. The main objective of this pilot was to validate the brief Confusion Assessment Method (bCAM), a two-minute delirium-screening tool, in a veteran palliative care sample.
This was a pilot prospective, observational study that included hospitalized patients evaluated by the palliative care service at a single Veterans’ Administration Medical Center. The bCAM was compared against the reference standard, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition. Both assessments were blinded and conducted within 30 minutes of each other.
We enrolled 36 patients who were a median of 67 years (interquartile range 63–73). The primary reasons for admission to the hospital were sepsis or severe infection (33%), severe cardiac disease (including heart failure, cardiogenic shock, and myocardial infarction) (17%), or gastrointestinal/liver disease (17%). The bCAM performed well against the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, for detecting delirium, with a sensitivity (95% confidence interval) of 0.80 (0.4, 0.96) and specificity of 0.87 (0.67, 0.96).
Significance of Results
Delirium was present in 27% of patients enrolled and never recognized by the palliative care service in routine clinical care. The bCAM provided good sensitivity and specificity in a pilot of palliative care patients, providing a method for nonpsychiatrically trained personnel to detect delirium.
Delirium is heterogeneous and can vary by etiology.
We sought to determine how delirium subtyped by etiology affected six-month function and cognition.
Prospective cohort study.
Tertiary care, academic medical center.
A total of 228 hospitalized patients > 65 years old were admitted from the emergency department (ED).
The modified Brief Confusion Assessment Method was used to determine delirium in the ED. Delirium etiology was determined by three trained physician reviewers using a Delirium Etiology checklist. Pre-illness and six-month function and cognition were determined using the Older American Resources and Services Activities of Daily Living (OARS ADL) questionnaire and the short-form Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (IQCODE). Multiple linear regression was performed to determine if delirium etiology subtypes were associated with six-month function and cognition adjusted for baseline OARS ADL and IQCODE. Two-factor interactions were incorporated to determine pre-illness function or cognition-modified relationships between delirium subtypes and six-month function and cognition.
In patients with poorer pre-illness function only, delirium secondary to metabolic disturbance (β coefficient = −2.9 points, 95%CI: −0.3 to −5.6) and organ dysfunction (β coefficient = −4.3 points, 95%CI: −7.2 to −1.4) was significantly associated with poorer six-month function. In patients with intact cognition only, delirium secondary to central nervous system insults was significantly associated with poorer cognition (β coefficient = 0.69, 95%CI: 0.19 to 1.20).
Delirium is heterogeneous and different etiologies may have different prognostic implications. Furthermore, the effect of these delirium etiologies on outcome may be dependent on the patient's pre-illness functional status and cognition.
The fully updated second edition of this popular handbook concisely summarises all current knowledge about delirium in critically ill patients and describes simple tools the bedside clinician can use to prevent, diagnose and manage delirium. Chapters discuss new developments in assessing risk and diagnosis, crucial discoveries regarding delirium and long-term cognitive outcomes, and dangers of sedation and death. Updated management advice reflects new evidence about antipsychotics and delirium. This book explains how to minimise the risks of delirium, drugs to avoid, drugs to use and when to use them, as well as current theories regarding pathophysiology, different motoric subtypes leading to missed diagnosis, and the adverse impact of delirium on patient outcomes. While there are still unanswered questions, this edition contains all the available answers. Illustrated with real-life case reports, Delirium in Critical Care is essential reading for trainees, consultants and nurses in the ICU and emergency department.